Bat-related outages still a problem in SA

Wednesday, 14 February, 2024

Bat-related outages still a problem in SA

Adelaide’s rapidly growing grey-headed flying fox colony continues to present a challenge for SA Power Networks, especially at this time of year. From late January to early April, a new brood of young get on the move, causing a large number of bat-related outages.

Customers can experience either extended outages when an animal gets caught on powerlines, or short ‘momentary’ outages, as equipment reconnects power after an animal temporarily contacts overhead powerlines.

These outages tend to occur in the early hours of the morning when the young tire while foraging for food and land on electricity pole tops for a rest.

SA Power Networks said it had been consulting with animal and environmental experts on potential options to minimise the number of outages while also protecting the flying foxes.

“In 2023, we had more than 55 instances of ‘sustained’ bat-related outages, impacting about 72,000 customers, with numerous additional momentary outages,” said Head of Corporate Affairs Paul Roberts.

“Given the rapid growth of the colony now totalling about 46,000 animals, we expect the number of outages to increase in early 2024 as juvenile bats become more active and forage for food. This is a significant issue for us and our customers, though thankfully most outages occur in the early hours of the morning while most of us are sleeping.”

Bat-related outages occur randomly across the metropolitan area and in the state’s south-east, where a second colony has formed.

In response, SA Power Networks crews are continuing to install animal guards on high-voltage (HV) powerline pole tops at locations where bat-related outages have occurred, as well as whenever other work is being undertaken on poles.

“Installation of the animal guards is now business as usual when undertaking pole-top work. We also have a program underway to install additional switch points on powerlines, which has helped reduce the number of customers impacted when these bat-related outages occur,” Roberts said.

“We will do everything we can to minimise the impact, but given the colonies are growing and we have hundreds of thousands of poles, we have a lot of work to do over the next decade installing animal guards and covering more of our powerlines to be able to significantly reduce what tend to be randomly located bat-related outages.”

SA Power Networks is installing animal guards to reduce power outages caused by animals.

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